Creating hair in Maya and Unreal Engine 4: part 3

Mar 13, 2020 at 10:00 am by nemirc

Last time I finished and imported the hair into UE4. However, it looked a little bit like a hair cap (I mean, like a solid object with a texture). The problem is that all the hair was at the same height, like it was lying down on a surface, meaning it needs some volume.

The first thing you can do is add some extra hair on top, in a more “organic” way (hair that is going from one side to the other, on top of the existing hair, or hair that “pops out” of the hairdo and breaks the overall shape of the hairdo). In the image below, you can see I added a chunk of hair going from one side, at the front, to the opposite side, on the back, and also some hair in the side “popping-out” of the hair flow to break the shape a little bit.

These little things will do a lot to improve the look of the hair by giving it more volume. Still, as you can see on the next image, the rest of the hair will still look “flat” like a hair cap.

Maya includes a set of modifiers that you can use to change the shape of the hair strands. For example, you can use a modifier to clump your hair along the guides, or a modifier to add noise to the hair strands and make it look a little more “messy.”

I added two clump modifiers and one noise modifier to the hair cap, and this is what I got. The first clump modifier was used to clump the hairs along the guides. The second one used generated guides (a bunch of small guides generated on the surface). These would mostly affect the roots of the hairs, since the guides are short and pointing upwards and, in the case of my hair, they cause hairs to “separate” a little bit. You should really take the time to explore these modifiers and see what they can do for you.

I did the same to the other two hair descriptions. You can see the results in the images below.

Since the “knot” at the root of the braid was causing weird interpolation issues, as it is part of the hair-cap description, I decided to add extra hair guides around it, to force the hair go “inside” the knot. The image below shows what I did.

Of course, I could have avoided this if I had simply created the hair knot as a separate description. Keep in mind that, even if you create a lot of different descriptions, they are all part of the same collection and thus part of the same hair. Also, when you import them into Unreal Engine 4, all the descriptions are grouped into a single groom object. This means you can (in theory) use as many hair descriptions as you want, and this will make your work a lot easier when making fancy-looking hairdos.

I imported everything again into UE4. Except this time I increased the number of guides in the import dialog You can see the final result in the image below (this time I put the character with the hair in the scene I had previously created as part of my series on Unreal Engine 4). After tweaking the shader to decrease the “shine” and increase the hair strand thickness a little bit, the hair looks pretty good.

I am still working on the hair for my character (and learning other Unreal Engine 4 features), so I will keep you updated.


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